X on TV

Please note: This stuff is really very very old indeed! I have no idea if it still works!
Nowadays you are probably better off with HDMI. Some sites seem to link to this page though. So here it is;

From the Xserver's point of view a TV with a RGB SCART input is nothing but a fixed sync monitor with a rather low picture quality. This means that you can make a TV compatible signal with a plain vanilla cheapo VGA card.

Modelines

For the European 625 line (575 visible lines) TV standard a modeline looks like this:

Modeline "736x575i" 14.16 736 760 824 904 575 580 585 625 interlace -hsync -vsync

Officially the horizontal resolution is 767 (4 / 3 * 575) pixels with a clock of 14.76 MHz. However, since the clock used is 14.16 MHz, I reduced the horizontal values proportional to 14.16 / 14.76 (and rounded them to the nearest multiple of 8).
14.16 MHz / 904 yields a horizontal deflection frequency of 15.664 kHz, which should work on most EU (15.625 kHz) (and US, 15.75 kHz) TV's.
If your VGA card's clock is different from 14.16 MHz, you need to change the horizontal values.

You can probably use the following modeline for the US 525 line (485 visible lines) standard:

Modeline "736x485i" 14.16 736 760 824 904 485 491 496 525 interlace -hsync -vsync

If you want to make a 640x480 screen with a black border you can you use this line:

Modeline "640x480i" 14.16 640 712 776 904 480 532 537 625 interlace -hsync -vsync

You can centre it by altering the 2nd and 3rd horizontal and vertical values (this example shifts the picture to the left):

Modeline "640x480i" 14.16 640 728 792 904 480 532 537 625 interlace -hsync -vsync

You can make a non interlaced signal with this modeline:

Modeline "736x288" 14.16 736 760 824 904 288 290 292 312 -hsync -vsync

More information on the X Window system

Howtos

Books

Hardware

The VGA RGB signals are compatible with the SCART bus, the sync signals are not. You have to create a composite sync signal of 0.3 ... 0.5 Vpp. The circuit below acts both as a AND gate and a level translator. It doesn't need a power supply and can be mounted inside a VGA plug:

 -VS ------------------------+
                             |
                             |
                         |  /
       +-----+           |/
 -HS --+ 3k3 +-----*-----|     BC 547 B
       +-----+     |     |\
                   |     |  \|
                   |        -|     +-----+
                   |         *-----+ 68  +----- -CS 0.3 Vpp
                   |         |     +-----+
                  +++       +++
                  | |       | |
                  | |       | |
                  +++       +++
                   |         |
 GND --------------*---------*----------------- GND
                  1k2       820

You can use any general purpose low frequent low power Si NPN transistor instead of the BC 547 B
The resistors are all standard 250 mW carbon film resistors;

  68 =   68 Ω
 820 =  820 Ω
 1k2 = 1200 Ω
 3k3 = 3300 Ω

I have a page with both the VGA and SCART connectors. If you apply the pin out you get this;

 VGA                                                SCART

   1 -O------------------------------------------O- 15 R
   2 -O------------------------------------------O- 11 G
   3 -O------------------------------------------O-  7 B

   6 -O------------------------------------------O- 13 R Gnd
   7 -O------------------------------------------O-  9 G Gnd
   8 -O------------------------------------------O-  5 B Gnd

   5 -O-+
        |
  11 -O-+

 Connector --------------------------------------O- 21 Connector
 shell                                                 shell

  14 -O------------------------+
 -VS                           |
                               |
                           |  /
         +-----+           |/
  13 -O--+ 3k3 +-----*-----|     BC 547 B
 -HS     +-----+     |     |\
                     |     |  \|
                     |        -|     +-----+
                     |         *-----+ 68  +-----O- 20
                     |         |     +-----+       -CS
                    +++       +++
                    | |       | |
                    | |       | |
                    +++       +++
                     |         |
  10 -O--------------*---------*-----------------O- 17
 Gnd                1k2       820                  Gnd

You can connect all grounds with each other if you like;

 5,6,7,8,Shell ------------------------------------ 5,9,13,17,21

Notes:

Use

There are several ways to tell your TV to use the RGB Scart input. In some cases you can use the remote control for this purpose. Some TV's have a switch near the Scart plug. In some cases however, you will have to force pin 16 high. A voltage of 0 ... 0.3 V represents off, while a voltage of 0.9 ... 3 V tells the TV to use the RGB Scart input. Warning: A voltage > 3 V on pin 16 might damage your TV!

Problems

Apparently, some hardware doesn't support interlaced mode. If you have sync problems, check the sync signal with an oscilloscope.

The usual disclaimers apply.